my boyfriend and I will be hiking to the top ofThabana Ntlenyana. I am looking for info on the best way to access it from KZN and on hiking without a guide.
From KZN without a guide - I hope you have a few days and a lot of patience
Go and check out www.vertical-endeavour.com - there is a thread somewhere on that site about this topic.
The easiest way is from Sani Top (technically the front terrace is in KZN). But I assume you mean from Vergelegen.
A few points about Thabana Ntlenyana from Vergelegen:
- The road is really bad. It took me over an hour to drive the 17km from the Lower Lotheni Road (which is also a dirt road) to the offices. It becomes a jeep track for the last 10 km, and you need good ground clearance to get through. My Etios suffered a lot, even though I was barely moving.
- Vergelegen doesn’t have a campsite since it burned down a few years ago, just an EKZN office. The staff is very friendly - probably because almost no one ever goes there.
- The name is very appropriate, you are very far from anything. Even getting to Birds Nest Cave at the base of Mkomasi Pass is a very long walk. And once you eventually get to the top, you still have a long way before you reach the top.
- Thabana Ntlenyana, while much more interesting than Mafadi, is still not the most interesting peak around. Yes, it is Lesotho’s only ultra, and rates near the top for most isolated peak on earth - but if you want good views, try Ngaqamadolo, Ntsupenyana, Nhlangeni or kaNtuba Buttress
- The camp is very low, around 1400m, while the peak is 3482m. So be prepared for a lot of vertical.
Conventional route is via Mkomazi Pass - but the Ngaqamadolo passes are probably about as much effort (just with a slightly more painful walkin). I haven’t done Mkomazi Pass, but I am told it is very easy.
I did this route last year, but via a funny variation (up the very obscure Mohlesi Pass and down South Ngaqamadolo Pass). Story with some photos at the following link:
Wow! Yeah from KZN would be a serious hike.
I’ll throw in my two cents for what it’s worth.
I’ve only done the hike from Sani Mountain Lodge. From the lodge you can drive a further 11 km into Lesotho and there is a little parking lot there. From there the hike is easy but long and not particularly interesting. You could use google maps, a GPS and/or a topographical map and walk in virtually a straight line or follow the ridges to the summit but a guide would definitely be best.
The summit itself is not very spectacular either, although we did have the good fortune of thick snow at the top. It really is a peak you “bag” to say you’ve been to the highest point, or in your case, if coming from KZN, for a serious challenge!
A group of us did Mkomazi pass last year and I can confirm it’s pretty easy by berg pass standards, with a clear path all the way. The valley is exceptionally beautiful, but it is a long walk-in to the base of the pass so plan for a first night somewhere on the banks of the stream. From the top of the pass you have a clear view of Thabana Ntlenyana so I really don’t think a guide is necessary. There is also a nice stream on the escarpment a short walk from the top of the pass if you’re planning to overnight up there. You will come across the odd basutho herdsman up there so the usual rules apply - keep your kit inside the tent with you at night, camp away from frequently used paths, and resist the temptation to buy favour with them through donating any consumables in wrappers that will just end up littering this pristine environment.